The popular weed killer Roundup is currently under the gun as more than 300 lawsuits have been filed against the brand so far. Most of the lawsuits have come from farmers, who believe that using the weed killer gave them cancer. Right now, the claims are being looked at with scientific scrutiny as studies are being conducted to determine the validity of the claims.
The science used in a court of law is pretty regulated, and that’s what’s currently being looked at. The scientific evidence presented has to be tested and pretty widely accepted by peer review, and multiple scientists must agree on how accurate the techniques are.
Specifically, the chemical glyphosate is in question, as it’s believed to be the cancer-causing agent. A portion of the World Health Organization believes that glyphosate could cause cancer in humans, but the evidence still isn’t conclusive enough to make a definitive decision.
Part of that inconclusiveness is due, in large part, to the fact that the studies haven’t really been conducted on a human population. So the question is if it causes cancer in rats, will it cause cancer in humans? One committee (which, ironically, also includes members of the World Health Organization) doesn’t necessarily believe that glyphosate on people’s food causes cancer. However, the California Environmental Protection Agency includes the chemical on its list of cancer-causing chemicals.
Again, determining just how much of a risk to humans the chemical poses is pretty difficult. That’s mainly because it’s not that easy to determine just how much of the chemical a person has been exposed to. Also, finding enough people that have actually picked up a rare form of cancer can be difficult, too.
The attorneys for Roundup are counting on these variables as part of their defense in the lawsuits.
While it’s true that there is no perfect scientific study, especially when it comes to rare diseases like chemical-induced cancers, the farmers who have joined the lawsuit are hoping that enough scientific evidence can be presented to convince the court that the weed killer indeed contributed to their personal illnesses.